Skip to main content

MP Eve Adams speaks in Ottawa on Feb. 9, 2015.JUSTIN TANG/The Canadian Press

Liberals in Eglinton-Lawrence sent a message to federal leader Justin Trudeau, picking a young lawyer and family man from the riding over Conservative floor-crosser MP Eve Adams to run as their candidate in the upcoming federal election.

Marco Mendicino won the nomination Sunday after an afternoon of intrigue and suspicion from Mr. Mendicino's supporters over whether Mr. Trudeau's team had somehow tried to fix the vote.

In the end, however, Mr. Mendicino won with about 1,100 votes compared to 800 for Ms. Adams, according to insiders at the nomination meeting.

He will run against Conservative MP and finance minister Joe Oliver, who won the riding in 2011, beating veteran Liberal Joe Volpe.

"Are you fired up? Who wants to take on Joe Oliver?" Mr. Mendicino said to his cheering supporters.

Later, Mr. Mendicino noted he was a now a "full member of Team Trudeau."

This was a closely watched race after Mr. Trudeau appeared to endorse Ms. Adams, welcoming her to the party in a nationally-televised news conference in February.

Mr. Trudeau had said that the nomination process was an open one – but there were many in this riding who felt that Ms. Adams was been given a boost from the Ottawa team.

Tom Allison, a well-respected and savvy Liberal organizer, became her campaign manager in a riding where she had no connections.

Ms. Adams is the MP for the suburban riding of Mississauga-Brampton South, elected as a Harper Conservative in 2011, but she had sought to run in an Oakville riding. She was told by the Conservatives she couldn't run for them after alleged misconduct in a nomination race last year.

Her partner, Dimitri Soudas, a long-time aide of Stephen Harper, also left the Conservative Party amid allegations he interfered in her nomination in the Oakville riding.

She had been campaigning for the Eglinton-Lawrence nomination since the spring.

Now she is without a riding. She said she will take a couple of days to think about her future and "be a mom."

Asked about how her loss will affect Mr. Trudeau, she dodged the question, saying that Mr. Trudeau is "actually an extraordinary leader." She said in caucus meetings, Mr. Trudeau speaks from the "heart" where Prime Minister Stephen Harper is "fully scripted."

She noted that in her five-month campaign she brought together many diverse groups, and especially attracted a lot of women.

"We had so many women who really came out and led during this campaign," she said.

Mr. Mendicino had been campaigning much longer. He used the fact that he lives and works in the riding as his trump card, playing up that aspect up during his speech before the voting began.

"My life is in the riding," he told voters.

Eglinton-Lawrence Liberal MPP Mike Colle was a key supporter of Mr. Mendicino. He told reporters before the result that Ms. Adams' supporters were "instant Liberals" and said the riding association would be split if she won.

In fact, just before she delivered her nomination speech, an audience member stood up and asked her to "withdraw" for the sake of the party.

Mr. Colle said the silver lining in the nomination battle was her candidacy revived the federal riding association: "Good or bad she has activated the Liberals."

And Mr. Mendicino said that Mr. Trudeau had promised the nomination would be open and "that's exactly what you all see … you see more participation, you see more engagement. This has done wonders for the Liberal Party," he said.

The question now is whether Ms. Adams' supporters, many of whom were recruited from the Somali community and other ethnic communities, will support Mr. Mendicino.

One of her volunteers, who would not give her name, told The Globe that she had paid $30 to sign up herself and her two daughters. But she said her name was not on the voters' list, so she was not allowed to vote. She said she was "insulted" and is not sure how she will vote in the federal election.

Others, however, such as Pietro Cugliari, the president of the provincial Liberal riding association for Eglinton-Lawrence, said that he could not have supported Ms. Adams. "She's not a true Liberal."

Another Mendicino supporter said he would have voted NDP.

Interact with The Globe